Friday 5: Great Date Night Ideas (On Base!)

I am a huge fan of taking full advantage of the discounts and special events available on base! There are lots of free and cheap ways to have an on-base date night! These are my Friday 5!

When you're looking for a date night idea that cheap and easy, don't forget to look at what's on available your military base!

Take in a movie on base.

Josh and I love to go see movies together, but a trip to the theater out in town will run you $40 bucks for tickets, popcorn, and drinks for two. Add in a dinner and a couple beers, and you could easily drop 100 bucks on one night out! Instead we choose a movie from the theater on base. For less than $20, we can buy tickets, popcorn, and soda for us both and save money for a special dinner another time.

*** Sometimes the base theater will also do “sneak peeks.” These are early release showings of movies, and they’re always FREE! Woohoo!

Exercise together.

Exercise is not exactly my jam and certainly isn’t my favorite date night idea, but there is something pretty great about heading out for a run with my sailor. The gym is always free, or you could take a kick-butt class together for a few bucks. I actually like hitting the (completely free) track with my sailor. We always seem to have the best, most open and honest conversations after a good run!

Check out MWR for couples’ nights.

Earlier this year, Josh and I bought tickets to a comedy show on base that included a dinner. For 20 bucks a piece, we scarfed some delicious burritos and laughed our butts off for a few hours. Performers come to bases often so make sure you know what events are coming up at your base. I follow our local Fleet and Family on Facebook to hear about the latest events so we can pick and choose when our next date night will be.

Lunch dates are cheaper.

I like to meet my sailor on base for lunch every now and then. Sometimes I bring lunch with me, and we meet at the park on base. Other times we share a sandwich from the commissary deli (cuzohmygoshtheyrethebest!) outside in the sunshine. Somehow lunch dates seem special and definitely brighten up my day!

Hit the lanes.

Okay … I’ll be honest here and tell you we’ve never gone bowling together as a date night. I hate bowling, but it’s cheap and easy and lots of people really enjoy it. Our base runs specials on Sundays and holidays for 50 cent games so really how can you pass that up?

Dating your spouse is sooo important. It is vital to have some time away from the kids, away from work, apart from everything else just to enjoy being together. When you’re making date plans don’t forget to see what your base has to offer!

How to Get Your Military Ball Gown for FREE

It’s no secret that I love a good military ball. I love dressing up. I love winding through a sea of handsome sailors dressed in blues, and I love spending an evening celebrating with our friends! What I don’t love? THE COST! Tickets are expensive! Military ball gowns are expensive! Everything is expensive!

… or at least it can be. In my area though a few awesome gals get together each spring and fall and host a dress swap of beautiful formal military ball gowns, and it’s … well … it’s AMAZING! It’s a simple concept: Root through your closet and bring out your old, gently used formal dresses to donate. Then “shop” through the racks of gorgeous gowns to find a new-to-you gown for FREE. Isn’t that awesome?!? A dress swap is a great way to give your old gowns new life and find something new for your next military ball.

One of the biggest expenses of any military ball is the price of the gown! it doesn't have to be though. You COULD get your next ball gown for FREE!

First up … is there interest?

One or two gals a dress exchange does not make. Ask around and see if other spouses are interested and have gowns to share or donate. Talk to all your friends. Speak to FRGs. Post in local spouse groups, and ask around your neighborhood. You’ll be surprised at how many are excited to join in!

Next … location, location, timing.

What? Yeah, they’re both pretty important. You’ll need a location large enough to house all the dresses with some type of changing rooms. A space with some place to try on dresses is ideal. Mirrors for your “shoppers” to check themselves out is helpful.

Try to time your event for 4 – 6 weeks before the next Ball so people are (A) actually looking through their closets for an old military gown and (B) on the hunt for something new.

Then … consider the details.

* How will you hang the dresses? Will you sort them by size?
* Will you have a drop-off time prior to the the “shopping” time? (This gives you time to sort the dresses if there are going to be a lot.)
* Will you also swap shoes? Handbags? Accessories?
* What will you do with leftover dresses? Keep them for next time? Donate? Return to sender?
* Will you serve food or beverages at your event?

Also … enlist help.

Whether your dress swap is just for you and a handful of friends or you open it up to the community, you need help. People to hang dresses. People to set up dressing rooms. People just to get the who/what/when/where out to the people who need to know.  Besides it’s always more fun to do these things with friends!

Finally … enjoy.

A dress exchange can be a lot of work, but remember what you’re there for! Everyone needs a dress for the ball, but NO ONE loves shelling out dough for a dress you’ll only wear once or twice. A dress swap and a new-to-you gown that really helps balance the budget could be just the ticket!

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I Need to Stop Solo Parenting When My Husband is Home

Being a parent is tough, no doubt, and solo parenting while your spouse is deployed is even tougher. I don’t think anyone could argue that, but the toughest part for me is when it comes time to stop solo parenting and just let my sailor be dad.

Parenting is hard. Solo parenting while spouse is deployed is even tougher, but the hardest part for me is letting go and letting my spouse parent once he comes home.

Last weekend, we all had to get our military IDs renewed. It’s a fairly simple process. Two forms of identification. A quick form. Take a pic, and sign your name. Presto change-o! You’ve got a brand new ID. Easy enough, right? Sure!

But as Josh was signing and trying to help our oldest daughter sign and military date the form (you know, yyyymmmdd), I butted in.

“Make sure sure you do it this way, Aubrey!” I said as I pointed to the way her dad had just written the date.

My husband just looked at me and said, “I got this. I was just about to tell her that.”

Whatever, I thought. I do this all the time. I manage. I make sure they don’t make these mistakes. I actually started to get a little perturbed about the whole situation until it dawned one me where this train was headed.

I was getting mad at my husband for asking me to let him parent his children.

And I’ll be honest … I’ve realized that this happens a lot. I’ve cut him off if I think he’s being too harsh with a punishment. I’ve stepped in before he gets the chance to take charge. Sometimes it’s as simple as making a face as he shares a story to drive a lesson home. I undermine my own husband’s parenting and authority quite often, and now that I’ve realized it, it has to stop.

Here are a few things it helps me to remember when my solo parent urges take over.

He might not do it your way.

And that’s okay. Josh folds towels differently than me, and he hangs my clothes backwards. The key words there, though, are “Josh folds” and “he hangs.” How he does it doesn’t matter as long as it gets done.

He might make mistakes.

Not too long ago, Josh got into an argument with our oldest daughter. I don’t even remember what it was about. It was really just an all-around misunderstanding. He yelled; she cried. It wasn’t pretty. Afterwards, when we talked about it, I told him that even though they were both in the wrong, I thought he should apologize. So he did. And their relationship was made stronger because of that.

It’s important to remember we all make mistakes in parenting. How many nights have I stayed up worrying over how I could have handled something better? How much guilt do I carry over things I should have done, could have done, wish I’d done for my children that I didn’t. I make mistakes, too, and it’s not okay to expect perfection from him.

Two heads are better than one.

I would never run out and by a car without my husband, and he would never go choose our next home without my input. We make big decisions together. Aren’t parenting decisions some of the biggest and certainly most important we’ll ever make? Why would I even think to leave him out of them!

Solo parenting is my job when my sailor is gone. All the decisions, all the details are up to me, and I’m okay with that. It’s hard, but it’s just part of the deployment. But when he comes home, I need to let go. I need to let him help, and I need to let him do it his way. It’s better for him. It’s better for me, and it’s absolutely the best thing for my kids.

Friday 5: Milspouse Bloggers You NEED to Be Following

I got sucked into the world of blogging over five years ago, and immediately I was hooked. I love writing blog posts for you. I love tinkering around with my own blog, and I really, really love reading blogs. I especially like reading military spouse blogs because I love learning how others make it through this crazy life. For today’s Friday 5, I’m sharing 5 Milspouse Bloggers You NEED to Be Following.

5 Milspouse Bloggers You NEED to Be Following

She is Fierce

Kim is a Canadian military spouse blogger, but from reading her blog for over a year now, I also want her to be my best milspouse friend. She just has a way with words. Her blog makes me laugh sometimes, cry often, and think always. I also love that her blog is all about the words. No ads, no selling. She writes because clearly that’s what she was put on Earth to do. Check her out at

High Heels and Combat Boots

Keating, at High Heels and Combat Boots, is a new-to-me blogger than I’ve slowly grown to love over the past few months. Her openness and honesty is absolutely refreshing. As the years go by, it is easy to become stuck in your ways and a little jaded about military life. Keating is a young military spouse who reminds me what it’s like to be young, for everything to be fresh and new and amazing and terrible all at the same time. Click over to and say hello today.

Jo, My Gosh

I started following Jo for one reason. She is hands down the very best halfway box designer ever, and she shares tips and how-to’s on every aspect of the process from how to wrap the inside of a box to the perfect puns for care package themes. But click over to her blog at, and you’ll see why I’m still a fan a year later. Jo is a great blogger. Her writing is solid. Her blog is beautiful, and she manages to keep the perfect balance of how to’s and photo stories and lovely advice every single week.

It Must Be Tuesday

This blog is nothing short of beautiful. This Navy spouse lives in Belgium. She and her beautiful family have traveled all over the place during their time there, and everywhere they go she brings her camera and a very good eye and shares it all with us on her blog. Her writing is clever and on point, but her photos are absolutely perfect. Pleeeease click over to It Must Be Tuesday and check her out.


This blog is a little different than the others. It isn’t written by one blogger; it’s actually a collaboration of a team of writers, and the focus of the entire blog is near to my heart: helping military spouses make the most of their lives, their potential, and their dreams. It also just feels kinda hip and cool, and everytime I’m over the I feel like I just want to be a part of that cool kids club. Check it out at

Clearly I’m a big fan of military spouses, and if they are also great writers and amazing photographers I love them more. But what I really love is the experiences that these ladies share with all of us. It’s always good to learn something new and see a new perspective, and I feel so lucky that these milspouses take the time to share just that.

Do you have any favorite milspouse bloggers? Are you a milspouse blogger? Leave a link in the comments!

Friday 5 is a weekly series of 5 great tips, people, or places I want to share with my readers!

8 Great Boat Email Tips From the Experts: YOU!

Sometimes I feel like an old bird in the Navy world. I was already married with two babies on 9/11.  I remember when the FRG was still actually called the Wives Club, and of course, I remember when the only communication I had with my sailor during deployment was a honeygram. Fifty empty squares on a page to fill with every thought I had to share with my sailor and only six times per patrol. It wasn’t great, but we made it work.

So when I complain about boat email, I do understand that it’s better than what we used to have, buuuut it sure ain’t a heart-to-heart phone call, amiright? Boat email definitely has its issues, like not always going through or sometimes sending two or three times, but there have to be ways to make it work for you. I recently found out our shore duty orders became “just one more patrol” so I figured I wanted to make the best of it. I asked the experts (YOU GUYS!), and here are 8 Great Boat Email Tips From the Experts: YOU!

Boat email may not be entirely reliable, but it's all we've got on subs, right? Here are 8 Great Boat Email Tips From the Experts: YOU!

Do you know each other’s email addresses? It may sound silly, but make sure you know his correct boat email address before he leaves. (HINT: It’s not the same as his address.) Also make sure he knows your current email address. I once changed emails during offcrew and forgot to share that with my sailor right away. YIKES! When email is all you’ve got, make sure you’re doing it right!

Discuss your expectations. Do you want an email every day? Is that something he is even able commit to? How often does he expect you to sit down and write to him? Make sure each of you knows what to expect.

Reader Kelly says: We also have an agreement on how often we are writing to each other and an understanding of priorities when it comes to writing- we had very different expectations starting out and had to have a good talk about it after a patrol of very few emails on his end.

Ask if there will be “quiet times” when he can’t email you and a guesstimate of time that will last. We’ve gone over 30 days with zero communication in the past, and it makes things much easier if you’re at least halfway expecting it.

Number them. Pretty much all the experts say to number your emails. Sometimes emails just don’t make it to the boat, and that can cause some interesting misunderstandings.

Boat email tips from the experts

And use those numbered email to your advantage in later emails! Seriously, 15 deployments in, and this tip blew my mind! Reader Hannah says, “When replying to an email from your sailor, start the paragraph with Re: #4 (for example). I cant tell you how many miscommunications this has saved my sailor and I!”

Date your emails. Or maybe don’t. Some folks said this was an OPSEC no-no. Others did it with no problem. The lesson here? Maybe talk to your Ombudsman and find out the specific rules about email at your Command.

Give ’em something to laugh about. Don’t forget to share the everyday silliness that they are missing.

Reader Danielle shares: I try to always send something happy or funny the kids did because I want him to laugh. Like when our daughter told my parents her father had a big something and I got lectured about it being time to bathe the kids separately and make sure day closes the bathroom door.

And reader Nichole adds: I always make funny comments in the subject line and base my emails off that. I also have a funny saying at the end when I put who it’s from. Such as your crazy wife, annoyed wife, loving wife etc…

Most importantly keep a good sense of humor about this better-than-honeygrams but still flawed system. 

Cartoon Character of mail is happy

Boat email is a blessing, I know. Otherwise us sub gals would have no way to talk to our sailors at all! But since it is a slightly flawed system, it helps to have tips from the experts to make the very best of it!